Más Que La Playa: Puerto Vallarta, 2017
An intimate look at the fabled Mexican resort town, from beyond the hotel compounds and beaches. We follow the journey of Pedro Camberos, a server at the Hotel Rosita, striving to support his parents and save for college. We also meet Jorge Zambrero, a civic leader hoping to improve the lives those in need, as well as many others. Más Que La Playa is an international co-production commissioned by the Sister Cities of Highland Park, Illinois and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The film is co-directed, co-produced with Puerto Vallarta filmmaker Sebastian Hernandez Alvarez and had its premiere at the Puerto Vallarta centennial in May 2017.
Isaac and Moishe, 2016
Serving up Kosher-style Mexican food in suburban Chicago for ten years, Isaac and Moishe Nava are living the American Dream. Their story begins with Isaac’s harrowing Southern border crossing, capturing a Jewish teen’s flight from a small Mexican village, and his ultimate success creating a restaurant empire with his brother Moishe.
Working out of a warehouse in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood, Rodrick Markus is the face behind Rare Tea Cellar. For more than a decade, Rare Tea Cellar has been sourcing and selling tea as well as anything you can eat, drink, or cook with. Markus and Rare Tea Cellar have partnered with some of the world’s most renowned chefs, including Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next, Aviary) Curtis Duffy (Grace), and dozens more. In this short video, we get a privileged peek inside the warehouse and we learn how Markus and his unusual niche business became gastronomical rock stars.
New York’s Lower East Side has steadily transformed from a neighborhood known best for its seedy immigrant tenements and streets hardened by heroin and crack addicts into today’s condo and club scene. That makes The Pickle Guys’ Allan Kaufman a throwback. Queens-born Kaufman remembers the Lower East Side of the late 20th century, which still hung on its famous Jewish immigrant past. By the early 2000s, he became the last pickle maker on these storied streets.
Shifting Traditions takes an incisive look at the issue of intermarriage within the American Jewish community. Through the diverse voices of interfaith couples and rabbinical leaders, the film reveals the contemporary struggle of many Jews to participate in a multicultural society, and simultaneously maintain a separate and unique identity.
AWARDS, FESTIVALS AND SCREENINGS: Gold Award, WorldFest Int’l Film Festival, CINDY Award, Award of Excellence, San Jose Film and Video Commission, Brooklyn Film Festival honoree
Located in the center of Silicon Valley, Olson’s Cherries is the last operating fruit orchard of its kind in the fertile region of California once known as “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”. In black and white film , Silicon Harvest lovingly tells the story of Charlie Olson , a cherry farmer right out of Steinbeck, and his feisty determination to keep his way of life in a changing San Francisco Bay Area.
AWARDS, FESTIVALS AND SCREENINGS: Slamdance Film Festival, 1999, Cinequest-San Jose Film Festival, 1999, Big Muddy Film Festival, 1999, ImageFest, 1999 , KTEH-TV San Jose PBS
In his gritty bass guitar plant in the Goose Island neighborhood of Chicago, Dan Lakin fashions pedigree bass guitars for today’s stars, including, Darryl Jones of The Rolling Stones, Adam Clayton of U2, John Stirratt of Wilco, and many others. For Lakin and his bass guitar company “Lakland”, the path to success has been fraught with challenges, namely trying to turn a profit in an unforgiving industry.
AWARDS, FESTIVALS AND SCREENINGS: Lake County Film Festival, Dixie Film Festival
From the front lines of the bankrupt Chicago Tribune, to the vibrant local online publishing and start-up scene, pioneering journalists struggle to reinvent a storied, yet troubled industry. In Mashed Media, we visit bloggers, independent publishers, hacker journalists, and social media mavens working in the trenches of Chicago, providing a rare and intimate look at the future of journalism now.
AWARDS, FESTIVALS AND SCREENINGS: Chagrin Documentary Film Festival, Naperville Independent Film Festival, NewFilmmakers New York, Illinois International Film Festival, Northwestern University Chicago Social Media Week, DocYour World- Columbia College
Insatiable: the Homaro Cantu Story, 2016
Chef and inventor Homaro Cantu helped put Chicago on the culinary map when he opened his first restaurant “Moto” and became a celebrity chef in his late twenties. A renowned inventor and social entrepreneur, Cantu innovated his restaurants and tackled big problems from Americans’ love affair with refined sugar to reimagining space cuisine. As much as Chef Cantu tried to change the world and make it a better place, a childhood filled with trauma and abuse shaped him more than he could have known. Filmed over a period of three years with remarkable access, INSATIABLE follows Cantu at a pivotal moment in his career and takes you on a dizzying and thrilling ride, in a story that moves from redemption and inspiration to tragedy and back again.
MSNBC Investigates: Who’s Watching You?, 2000
MSNBC Investigates: I Hear Dead People, 2000
MSNBC Headliners & Legends: Robert Chambers, 2000
MSNBC Investigates: Shawna Robinson (not broadcast)
Bravo Profiles: Melissa Etheridge, 2000
HGTV: Habitat for Humanity, 2000
MSNBC Reports: Attack on America, 2001
CBS News/Court TV: Burning Questions: The Pioneer Hotel Fire